WHO investigators to scrap interim report on probe of COVID-19 origins

Lawrence Kim
Марта 6, 2021

A World Health Organization team investigating the origins of COVID-19 is planning to scrap an interim report on its recent mission to China amid mounting tensions between Beijing and Washington over the investigation and an appeal from one worldwide group of scientists for a new probe, the Wall Street Journal reported https://on.wsj.com/388QK6F on Thursday.

The WHO team returned recently from its visit there saying it had no clear finding on the genesis of the virus, amid tensions between the USA and China on what caused the global health crisis.

In a March 4 statement, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced that the full report and a summary will be released the week of March 15, with member states having access before the release.

In January a W.H.O. investigative team visited hospitals, food markets and research institutes in Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the coronavirus was identified, in search of clues.

The WHO says this summary will be published with the full report "in coming weeks".

But that plan has been scrapped, lead scientist on the investigation team, Peter Ben Embarek, told the Journal.

Instead, "the team wants to issue the full report at the same time as the summary so all information is available to public", said spokesman Tarik Jašarević. "So since there (is) so much interest in this report, a summary only would not satisfy the curiosity of the readers".

Responding to that report, the White House said on February 13 it was "deeply concerned" about the way the early findings were communicated, and called on China to release the data from the earliest days of the outbreak.

"It is about learning and doing, being positioned to do everything we can to protect ourselves, the American people, and the worldwide community against pandemic threats going forward", Price told a briefing.

"We need an open mind and if we close down some avenues because they are considered too sensitive, that is not how science operates", he said.

The open letter said the World Health Organization mission "did not have the mandate, the independence, or the necessary access to carry out a full and unrestricted investigation" into all theories about the origins of Covid-19.

This news comes as the independence of the team conducting the investigation has come under fire.

The scientists' open letter lists what the signers see as flaws in the joint WHO-China inquiry and states that the inquiry could not adequately address the possibility that the virus leaked from a lab.

The WHO mission has been political from the start, as the worldwide team's members acknowledged.

But Petrovsky countered, saying it "doesn't make any sense" to rule anything in or out, adding the aim of the open letter was "to get an acknowledgement globally that no one has yet identified the source of the virus and we need to keep searching".

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